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VERIFIED: Is it true these Spanish villages are paying people to move there?

International and national news sites have recently reported that Spain has a number of villages where individuals or families are being paid to move there, or offered free accommodation and work. The Local Spain decided to investigate if these claims were true by speaking to the villages themselves.

VERIFIED: Is it true these Spanish villages are paying people to move there?
The village of Ponga in Asturias. Photo: Carmenmoran / WikiCommons

Covid restrictions, the advent of remote working in Spain, a new visa for digital nomads and improving internet connections are all currently contributing to making rural Spain a sought-after destination for people around the world.

As a result, a number of popular news sites and media outlets in the UK and US have published articles listing the Spanish villages that are allegedly now paying people to move there in a bid to solve their depopulation problems. 

As The Local Spain has been covering all the latest developments for remote workers in Spain in 2021, the promises of endless offers of free accommodation, work and in some cases money didn’t seem to add up. 

So we decided to get on the phone to the ayuntamientos (town halls) of each of the villages listed in these international media outlets to find out if it was true.  Some of their answers painted a very different picture from what was being suggested in the local and foreign press. 

Ponga, Asturias

The village of Ponga in Asturias. Photo: Carmenmoran / Wikimedia Commons

Reports from across the world have suggested that the village of Ponga in Asturias (northern Spain) is giving couples or families €3,000 to help them settle in, and a further €3,000 for each baby born in the village.

When The Local Spain spoke to a representative from the town hall however, they stated that “the offer hasn’t been available since 2007 and we can’t understand why it’s making headlines again”.

Unfortunately for Ponga, the scheme didn’t work out as planned as there weren’t enough jobs available for the additional families, so many had to pack up and leave.

Rubia, Galicia

Several articles have recently reported that the municipality of Rubia in the Galician province of Ourense (also northern Spain) will supplement new residents’ income by an extra €100-150 per month.

When The Local Spain called Rubia Town Hall, village authorities said that what was being reported in international media “is simply not true”.

Griegos, Aragón

The village of Griegos in Spain’s Teruel province. Photo: Chantejot /WikiCommons

Another village that is reportedly trying to attract new residents with incentives is Griegos in Aragón’s Teruel province (northeast Spain).

Reports stated that Griegos Town Hall would offer three months rent-free to any families willing to move there.

While this was true at one point, a spokesperson from the village of 150 people told The Local Spain that “we have already found families to fill our quota and are no longer offering this incentive”.

A Xesta, Galicia

The hamlet of A Xesta in Galicia. Photo: Simon Burchell / WikiCommons

Other media reports wrote that another Galician village, this time in the municipality of Pontevedra, was trying to attract new residents by offering them reduced rentals from just €100 per month.

The Local Spain tried to reach out for comment from authorities in the hamlet but received no answer.

It also proved impossible to contact authorities in Olmeda de la Cuesta, in the central Spanish province of Cuenca, with reports saying the village has several plots of land for sale for as little as €200 to try and attract people to come and build houses there.

The village of Olmeda de la Cuesta in Cuenca. Photo: Diego Delso / WikiCommons

Camarena de la Sierra

Camarena Camarena de la Sierra, Aragon. Photo: Marcela Escandell / Flickr

Finally, it was recently reported in the Spanish press that the village of Camarena de la Sierra, also in Aragón (in northeast Spain) is offering new residents job offers and help with accommodation.

When The Local called for clarification, local authorities confirmed “this scheme does indeed exist, but places are limited”.

“There is for example an empty bakery with an attached house that someone could move into,” a spokesperson said.

“Each application would be assessed on a case-by-case basis depending on the skills each person has and what they could bring to the village.”

Conclusion

Offers like the ones listed above quickly go viral and as a result end up outdated after very little time, so it may be best for you to do your own research and contact the actual villages if you are indeed interested in a particular place.

If possible, try to call the village ayuntamiento in question to find out the exact conditions or if the offer is still valid. 

There’s also nothing stopping you from pitching to authorities in any village in rural Spain (not just those promoting themselves) a service you can offer in return for lower rent or a free home. It could be English lessons at the local school or setting up a business in their pueblo (village).

Alternatively, there are several Spanish villages that we can confirm are trying to attract remote workers to live there due to their dwindling populations, but they won’t necessarily pay you to move there. 

FIND OUT MORE: The Spanish villages that want remote workers

A total of 30 towns and villages across Spain have joined the Red Nacional de Pueblos Acogedores or the National Network of Welcoming Villages, meaning that the places listed on their website are regularly updated with the latest information and thus are actively looking for remote workers when you carry out your search. 

Before you think about moving to any of these villages, you should also be aware that life in rural Spain has its challenges.

Villages are often underpopulated and those that remain tend to be older, in some places there are increasingly fewer services such as banks, and speaking Spanish is a must.

Read here to find out more about about the pros and cons of moving to a small village in rural Spain. 

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MOVING TO SPAIN

How to find temporary accommodation in Spain when you first arrive

One of the most common questions people moving to Spain ask is where they can rent temporary accommodation while looking for somewhere more permanent. This can be particularly tricky, but we've found some of the best places to look.

How to find temporary accommodation in Spain when you first arrive

So you’ve sorted out your visas, you’ve done all your packing and have either sold or moved out of your home, but when you arrive in Spain you’re not exactly sure where you’re going to stay.  

Of course, it’s not the best idea to sign a contract ahead of time for a more permanent place before you’ve actually seen it in person. Photos don’t always accurately represent what the house or apartment looks like in reality and you won’t really be able to get a feel for the neighbourhood without being there. 

On top of this, rental scams are rife in some places in Spain, particularly in the bigger more popular cities like Barcelona. Often people will place an ad (which usually looks too good to be true) and get you to wire over a deposit to secure it in advance, but here’s the catch – the place doesn’t usually exist.

This is why it’s important to never hand over money to secure a place to live in Spain before you’ve actually seen it in person and you can get the keys as soon as you sign the contract.

But, finding a place to live in a new country can be difficult and it can take time, so while you look for somewhere, you’re going to need temporary accommodation for a couple of months. This can be tricky too because often temporary accommodation is geared towards tourists and you’ll be paying tourist prices too.

While Idealista and Fotocasa are two of the most popular sites to look for accommodation in Spain, when you only want somewhere for a couple of months, there’s no point looking there, as most places will have yearly contracts.

Keep in mind with short-term rentals for a couple of months, you’re going to be paying higher than the average monthly rent, however, for this, the apartments are usually fully furnished, including kitchen utensils, wi-fi already connected and offer you the flexibility of shorter contracts.

Short-term rental agencies

Specialised short-term rental agencies are the best way to go, which will allow you to sign contacts for less than the typical one year. These types of agencies are usually found in Spain’s big cities that are popular with foreigners, such as Madrid and Barcelona.

Trying searching in Spanish too by typing alquiler de temporada or alquiler temporal plus the name of the city or town you’re looking in. This way you may be able to find places that offer better value. 

Barcelona

In Barcelona, check out aTemporal an agency that started up precisely to fix the problem of trying to find accommodation in-between tourist accommodation and long-term rentals. They rent out apartments for anywhere from 32 days to 11 months.

ShBarcelona is another agency that specialises in these types of rentals and have properties all over the city.

READ ALSO – Moving to Barcelona: A guide to the best neighbourhoods to live in

Madrid

In Madrid, try DFLAT, which was created by two professionals from the Instituto de Empresa University after discovering the difficulties professionals and foreigners found when looking for an apartment in Madrid. Sh also has a good branch in Madrid.  

Valencia

In Valencia, Dasha Living Space has both short and long-term fully furnished flats available and  Valenvi Flats also offers rentals for between three and six months.

READ ALSO – Moving to Valencia: A guide to the best neighbourhoods to live in

Airbnb

While the nightly rate of Airbnb apartments is typically too expensive to rent for a couple of months, you may be able to find some deals. Often when you input dates for a month into Airbnb, you’ll find that several places have a monthly discount offered. Also, some owners will do a deal for a couple of months. If it’s winter for example and they know they’re not going to get many tourists anyway, they may be willing to negotiate.

Vrbo

Like Airbnb, the properties on Vrbo are rented out directly by the owners. While the site is also mainly focused on tourists, some owners may negotiate outside of the tourist season.

Housesitting

If you’re willing to try something a little bit different, then housesitting could be the way to go. This is where you live in somebody’s house for free, in exchange for looking after their pets and their property.

Often people only need someone for a few days, but sometimes you’ll see house sits available for a month or longer. This is perhaps a better option for those who are flexible on where they might want to live and are trying out a few different places. It’s also better for those wanting to live in smaller towns or villages rather than the bigger cities, as there are fewer postings for these popular locations. Trusted Housesitters and Mind My House are good options. 

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